Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw
The International Panel of Experts (IPoE) on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has submitted its final report to the governments of the three riparian states-Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan. Ethiopia in good faith called the two riparian states to form the international panel of experts so as to investigate if the GERD will cause any significant negative effect to the downstream states. With the agreement between the Ministers of water affairs of the three riparian states the panel of experts was established with two experts from each of the three riparian states and four international experts chosen by the consensus of the riparian states. After its establishment the IPoE studied the designing and related documents and the project site at Guba-Benshangul Gumuz for almost a year. The mandate of the IPoE was to study the benefit of the dam to the riparian states and as well to investigate if the dam will cause any significant harm to downstream states and to propose any possible corrective mechanisms to the project owner-Ethiopia. Accordingly, the IPoE has submitted its final report to the governments of the three riparian states on June 1, 2013. Previously, this blog reported that, some Egyptian media were trying to influence the final report of the IPoE. And I have stated that, the final report will not by any means continue anything in reference to the phrases “Egypt’s or Sudan’s share or quota.”
Thus according to the final report which will be publically released for opinion after the governments of the three countries investigation, the following are the major findings. As announced in the media, the Report has stressed that the design of the dam meets international standards, the dam will benefit the three riparian states and it will not also create significant harm to the two downstream states. In case, if there are further benefits to be identified and any negative effects from the dam, the Report farther recommended the need to do additional research. The dam also recommends the need to work together among the riparian states. Following, the submission of the Report the Ministry of Water and Energy announced that it will take time to probe the final report and pledge to cooperate with riparian states on the Nile for mutual benefit and appreciated the works of the IPoE.
On the other hand, according to news from Egypt, Egypt State Information Service stated that, “The report also recommended changing and amending the dimensions and the size of the dam before embarking on implementation and setting a timetable illustrating the water revenues if the River Nile during the coming 60 years.” This is not, though, heard from the statement of the Ministry of Water and Energy of Ethiopia. In addition to this, Reuters citing the President of Egypt stated that, “Citing the findings of the report, the presidency said Ethiopia’s “studies were not adequate for a project of this scale, and the committee’s report recommended more studies of the economic and social aspects, the security of dams and water resources, not to mention the environmental aspects”.” On the same token the Egyptian state run ahram online stated that, ‘The report, according to the spokesman, recommended further social and economic studies into the dam’s impact, as well as further study of the environmental impact of the dam and its potential safety.” The egyptian media and even Reuters have quoted the president of Egypt saying the study made on the dam is inadequate. It should be clear that recommending further social and economic studies does not mean that the study on the dam is inadequate. The Ministry of Water and Energy of Ethiopia in its televised statement have stated that the recommendation of the IPoE is to make further study on to identify if there are any other benefits or any negative effect. It must be underlined on if any.
The governments of the riparian states must sit and discuss the matters on a round table than throwing words which will exacerbate divides. The way the Egyptian presidency announced its statements with an over negatively-toned voice will not help the cooperation needed between the riparian countries regarding the GERD or any other projects for mutual benefit.
Waiting the release of the report to the public, this blog urges the Government of Ethiopia to look in to the different phrases and words which might be inappropriately included. Words such as Egypt’s share/quota, Sudan’s share/quota-as these are contentious issues that Egypt needs upstream states to accept. Following the news reports from Reuters and Egypt State Information Service, this blog speculates that the Report may contain contradictory findings or messages of what so ever. The need for further study on the GERD may not hold the construction of the dam nevertheless watching after words is important. a